Solar power: the future of charging construction equipment?

With growing concerns over global emission levels, the construction industry is tasked with considering greener energy solutions. In recent years, electric-powered plant machinery is an increasingly common and welcome sight in construction sites. However, many sites still need to run diesel generators to produce electricity due to an unavailability of grid-powered electricity, meaning further emissions down the line.

Featured image courtesy of WiTricity

Last year, Volvo CE, Beam Global (formerly known as Envision Solar), and WiTricity joined forces to demonstrate a possibility that could be key to cutting emissions and fossil fuel consumption at construction sites. At North America’s largest construction show ConExpo, the companies showcased what could be a common practice in the future: construction equipment which is not only electric, but also powered with solar energy wirelessly.


Recently, Volvo CE began expanding their electric range by introducing new compact electric equipment with the L25 Electric and ECR25 Electric models. According to WiTricity, in the future, Volvo CE’s ECR25 electric compact excavator, as well as other electric construction equipment will be able to equip wireless solar charging technology from WiTricity, which gives the operator a hands-free charging experience.

The Volvo L25 Electric and the ECR25 Electric. Image courtesy of Volvo CE.

How wireless solar charging technology works

For the demonstration, Beam Global provided the electric charging power with their EV ARC™ (Electric Vehicle Autonomous Renewable Charger), which is the only transportable but permanent EV charging infrastructure solution available on the market. EV ARC™ is a stand-alone charging station, with solar panels that collect energy when the sun is shining, then store it in a battery, so the construction vehicle can be charged at night when it is not being used. An added benefit of the WiTricity wireless charging technology is that it has low maintenance costs, and it functions reliably despite variations in weather and high levels of dust in construction sites.

In simple terms, solar panels work by absorbing sunlight, which generates direct current (DC) energy, after which it is converted to alternating current (AC) energy, which can be used to power most electric devices and vehicles. A construction site with all-electric vehicles would have the benefit of not only producing no greenhouse gas emissions, but it would also be significantly quieter.

Next steps

Construction sites powered by solar energy are not yet common. However, we expect to see stricter emissions regulations for the construction plant industry in coming years, with many leading companies already choosing to focus on expanding their electric ranges. In the future, growing accessibility of solar and other types of renewable energy in construction sites could encourage the industry to take action in order to reduce the use of diesel.


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